The email below was sent today by David Chiu, a graduating senior at the University of Colorado. He's been involved with a group of students, meeting with the CU administration since Feb. 18, when an ill-advised satire column titled "If It's War that Asians Want, It's War They'll Get" was posted on the Campus Press website of the university's school of journalism.
If you're not familiar with the controversy, here is an article published by the Pacific Citizen, and my original blog post and an update and a second follow-up.
David's update, sent almost on the eve of his graduation, is a sad commentary on the frustrations felt by the students who were directly affected by this article. There hasn't been a lot of progress, although there have been a lot of politically correct platitudes and promises given out.
There are efforts outside the university, within the Asian Pacific American community at large, to keep the issue alive during the summer months. What these brave and dedicated students have started at CU have caused a ripple effect outside Boulder's insular world, that will hopefully continue outward for a long time.
Bill Imada, founder and CEO of IW Group, a PR/Marketing firm, is part of a group blog at Advertising Age called "The Big Tent" that's worth following. In this recent post, Bill writes about (and includes embedded videos of) TV commercials that include Asians and Asian Americans without using demeaning stereotypes.
Here are the ads that Bill writes about:
The post is in reaction to the stupid animated commercials for SalesGenie.com that debuted during the Super Bowl, which are still airing despite complaints from APA groups.
I missed this NPR report a couple of weeks ago, about the impact of the character Long Duk Dong from the 1980s hit movie, "16 Candles." I had heard a promo for the report while driving but got home before it came on.
I finally went back to check it out and it's worth hearing.
The link to the report is at the top of the page; the text on the page is the report's transcript. Be sure to check out the extra interview clip with Gedde Watanabe, the Japanese American actor who played "the Donger" -- he doesn't really have a clue, unfortunately. And check out the comic that's included, "Donger and Me."
I've never seen Denver's Asian American community rally so quickly around an issue like they have around the botched satire, "If it's war the Asians want... It's war they'll get", that ran on the website of The Campus Press, the University of Colorado's venue for budding journalists.
There's been a blizzard of emails flying around town from groups and individuals, outraged postings (including mine as well as Joe Nguyen's commentary on AsiaXpress), and TV and print media news reports.
A collective of APA students who've organized a Facebook group called Colorado Asian American Organizations organized a meeting yesterday at Denver University, where about 40 people showed up. Erin attended, and also sent out notices to some of the local media, so there were TV crews from several stations on hand to cover the discussion. Attendees included not just students, but community activists, older APAs and also African Americans and Latinos.
I'm always amazed at how young "journalists" can write really stupid stuff and then hide behind the cloak of "satire" to defend themselves. That's what happened this week, when the University of Colorado's amateur student news site, CampusPress.com, ran a commentary by Max Karson titled "If it's war the Asians want... it's war they'll get."
It's not very well written. It's self indulgent in an immature, self-possessed manner. It's confusingly filled with hate language and alarming statements for much of the column, then it veers into surrealism, and suddenly, if you weren't sure whether it's supposed to be a joke (I wasn't), you start to realize it's not serious. The problem is, so much of it sounds serious, and feels serious, and perpetuates racist stereotypes and statements about Asians that I've heard all my life. So why wouldn't I take it seriously?
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